Archives About Staff BagNews is dedicated to visual politics, media literacy and the analysis of news images.
September 28, 2009

Our Man at the G20 (#1): Behind The Protest


(Click for larger size)

Over the coming week, BAGnewsNotes will be looking at last week’s G20 protests in a way, we believe, that defies conventional thinking.

Looking through the lens of photographer Jason Andrew, who was on the ground for us, we hope to raise some provocative issues about the perception and relevance of street demonstrations in 2009 America; the nature of the police/security response; and the value of the documentation by the media.

To begin our inquiry, we offer four girls on a roof doing a little drinking while hanging out on Friday night. In the foreground, we see shadows representing a bevy of photographers taking their picture. …So what made these girls an attraction to the photographers? And more specifically, what is it about the girls as subject matter to the other photographers that caught Jason’s attention?

In their nonchalance (which is strangely paired with the curious orientation of the photographers), the girls are watching demonstrators clashing with riot police and getting pepper sprayed.

(image: ©Jason Andrew/BAGnewsNotes. Pittsburgh, PA., September 25, 2009)

About the Photographer

Jason Andrew

Jason Andrew is an American photojournalist born in Alameda, CA. he graduated from San Diego State University in 2001 with a B.A. in History before teaching elementary school for a couple of years. In 2006, he moved to New York City to attend the International Center of Photography Documentary & Photojournalism program where he was the recipient of the Sandy Lugar Scholarship. In 2012 Jason was a finalist for the Leica Oskar Barnack Award and won 1st Place in the PGB photo Awards for his project Football's Lost Boys, documenting the lives of abandoned African footballers living in Turkey. This work was also screened at Les Recontres D'Arles. Jason is currently based in Brooklyn, New York. See more of Jason's work for BagNews here.

  • jtfromBC

    I look forward to the work of photographer Jason Andrew and offer this report as background -
    ‘The G20 in Pittsburgh showed us how pitifully fearful our leaders have become.
    What no terrorist could do to us, our own leaders did.
    Out of fear of the possibility of a terrorist attack, authorities militarize our towns, scare our people away, stop daily life and quash our constitutional rights.
    For days, downtown Pittsburgh, home to the G20, was a turned into a militarized people-free ghost town. Sirens screamed day and night. Helicopters crisscrossed the skies. Gunboats sat in the rivers. The skies were defended by Air Force jets. Streets were barricaded by huge cement blocks and fencing. Bridges were closed with National Guard across the entrances. Public transportation was stopped downtown. Amtrak train service was suspended for days.
    In many areas, there were armed police every 100 feet. Businesses closed. Schools closed. Tens of thousands were unable to work……from
    Street Report from the G20 by Bill Quigley

  • bernini

    ..and of course the four girls probably have a bunch of photos of the press photographing them.
    @jtfromBCe what I saw in the scant attention that I paid to the G-20 is that we “own” a lot of riot toys and that stuff looks expensive – and fun, if you have a barbaric leaning. Wonder if it’ll keep finding it’s way into the street. 4th of July Parade, bring on the riot police and their macho commando ken doll outfits….that sort of thing. The puffy uniforms (which btw remind me of those lame little boy super hero costumes that have fake muscle padding) and baseball catcher’s knee/shin padding really takes jack-booted to a new level.

  • nordmend

    looks like a one dimensional stage set, with lighting to match.
    the house represents the american political process: white, with a red and and a blue door; whichever (mainstream political) door the inhabitants enter, they end up sitting on their asses drinking beer and watching democracy get pounded.
    fascism has become a spectator sport.
    like those sickening reality-cop-on-patrol shows, but higher definition.

  • jtfromBC

    Our spectators side of the house has a grated window downstairs while its occupants observe from a protected perch on the second floor which leads me to wonder if these girls have experienced or become -
    Addicted to Violence: Has the American Dream Become a Nightmare?

  • g

    Looks like a doll house, or as someone above said, a stage set. I first thought it was some kind of display.

  • thirdeye pushpin

    the revolution will be commodified, complete with tweets, facebook pics, resistance as sport…our lack of essential ritual running headlong into ourcontradictory impulses of power…

  • Tena

    Beat me to it – I was going to say Doll’s House.
    It’s very surreal in general.

  • Tena

    No doubt.
    But I’m curious why so many people on the left in particular think revolution is a good idea. The only revolution that ended well for the general public was ours and possibly the Czech velvet revolution.
    Most of the time revolutions end in worse government than you started with. And I’m not so down on America and the government here that I want to see it overthrown – not by a long shot. I have an extreme fondness for the constitution, developed from carefully studying it in law school.

  • yg

    police state treatment is reserved for a special class of people.
    compare & contrast:
    g20 protest:
    Following the court ruling, the Pittsburgh police department has engaged in a pattern of harassment of G20 demonstrators, singling out the Seeds of Peace Collective, one of several groups providing food support to the protestors.
    The police have repeatedly tried to intimidate members of the collective, citing them with minor traffic violations, illegally searching their bus, towing their legally parked bus, detaining and charging members walking home with loitering, repeatedly demanding identification, and pressuring private property owners to rescind their permission for the collective to park its bus.
    Despite evidence of systematic harassment, a federal judge refused to grant a temporary injunction to stop the harassment in a second lawsuit.

    teabagger rallies:

    There is a clear contrast when we look at how law enforcement officials treat right wing protests. In fact, when I was searching for photos of the police presence at Glenn Becks 912 DC rally, it took me over an hour to find ONE photo, it’s almost like there wasn’t a police presence at all. There is no systematic denial of permits for right wing protesters, forcing legal groups to sue to exercise their constitutional rights. There are no raids on houses prior to marches. There are zero cases of illegal detention prior to the protests. The number of police arriving is minimal, and they have not been arriving in full riot gear. The police have not used intimidation tactics, tear gas, sound cannons, rubber bullets, or even their batons.

  • Tena

    “police state treatment is reserved for a special class of people. ”
    There’s always been a double standard. But what I see is that the special class of people here is based on age. The G20 protesters are on the whole much younger than the rather non-physical older, overweight bunch who showed up at Tea Bagger rallies and Town Halls. The Tea Baggers Town Hallers made up the difference, of course, by being heavily armed. My instinct, however, is that this is about age – a young crowd versus an older crowd.

  • jtfromBC

    Not necessary Revolution lets try REFORM, starting with Foreign Aid, Health Care, A Military Empire, Economic Inequality and The Justice System.
    Americans] are regularly told by politicians and the media, that America is the world’s most generous nation. This is one of the most conventional pieces of ‘knowledgeable ignorance’…..As former President Jimmy Carter commented: ‘We are the stingiest nation of all’. Denmark is top of the table, giving 1.01% of GDP, while the US manages just 0.1%. The United Nations has long established the target of 0.7% GDP for development assistance, although only four countries actually achieve this: Denmark, 1.01%; Norway, 0.91%; the Netherlands, 0.79%; Sweden, 0.7%. Apart from being the least generous nation, the US is highly selective in who receives its aid. Over 50% of its aid budget is spent on middle-income countries in the Middle East, with Israel being the recipient of the largest single share.
    Americans spend an average of $7,290 a year on health care, more than twice the average for developed countries. Despite that, the United States lags in life expectancy, infant mortality and preventable deaths.
    The global reach of the US military today is unprecedented and unparalleled. Officially, more than 190,000 troops and 115,000 civilian employees are massed in approximately 900 military facilities in 46 countries and territories (the unofficial figure is far greater). The US military owns or rents 795,000 acres of land, with 26,000 buildings and structures, valued at $146bn (£89bn). The bases bristle with an inventory of weapons whose worth is measured in the trillions and whose killing power could wipe out all life on earth several times over

  • jtfromBC

    The OECD’s 2008 Report, “Growing Unequal?: Income Distribution and Poverty in OECD Countries
    It states that America “is the country with the highest inequality level and poverty rate” among the 30 OECD countries, ranking only ahead of Mexico and Turkey. In addition, since 2000, inequality grew rapidly, “continuing a long-term trend (going) back to the 1970s” when inflation-adjusted household incomes began falling. Other data cited includes:
    The United States has, for instance, 2.3 million criminals behind bars, more than any other nation, according to data maintained by the International Center for Prison Studies at King’s College London.

  • desertwind

    I think it’s the house itself that is attention-getting. Sandwiched between two larger buildings and surrounded by concrete parking lot.

  • nordmend

    the photo’s foreground was twigging something in me that i couldn’t quite place -
    the human shadows left at hiroshima.
    same energy source, when you really think about it.

  • DennisQ

    Which side of the building is the dentist’s office – the brown door with the bars on the window? – or the blue door with the odd shapes in the window?
    A dentist’s office would have a supply of narcotics. But since it’s not used at night, maybe the bars would be intimidating to prospective patients.
    The young women have emerged from the open window on the left side, and it’s possible they rent only the top floor. The tenants on the right side don’t want to be bothered with what’s going on outside.

  • jtfromBC

    thanks for your keen observation which leaves me thinking;
    This Bud’s for you!
    There’s no one else who does it,
    Quite the way you do…
    So here’s to you!
    You know it isn’t only what you say,
    It’s what you do!
    For all you do…
    This Bud’s for you!
    For all you do…
    For all you do…
    This Bud’s for you!
    For all you do,
    You know the king of beers is coming through!
    For all you do…
    This Bud’s for you!
    and Ohhhhhh…lets get back the street game…

  • sherry

    You see girls, i see young ladies. At what age do boys become men? I know this is off topic, but that always bothers me.

Originals Archive Archives